5 things to know about lumbar spine surgery pain, function scores

Written by Laura Dyrda | August 06, 2014 | Print  |


A study published in the August issue of Spine examines the relationship between pain improvement and physical function and disability improvement for one year after lumbar spine surgery.



There were 260 patients prospectively enrolled in the study who underwent elective spine surgery for degenerative lumbar conditions. The study period was 2005 to 2011 and the patients were followed for 12 months with standard assessment tools.


Here are five findings from the study:


1. The average preoperative pain intensity was 5.2 with a standard deviation of 2.4. Pain intensity improved in 63 percent of the patients by three and six months; there was improvement in 70 percent of the patients by 12 months.


2. The physical function from the Short Form 12 version two preoperatively was 27.9 with a standard deviation of 9.2. Patients with postoperative pain improvement were more likely to have subsequent physical function improvement within 12 months.


3. The disability calculated with the Oswestry Disability Index was 40.1 percent preoperatively with a standard deviation of 16.8 percent. There was an association between pain improvement and disability reduction.


4. An eight-year follow-up study on patients who undergo spinal fusion for lumbar disc herniation experience greater long-term improvement in pain, function and disability when compared with patients who undergo nonsurgical treatment, according to a Science Daily report. However, the study also showed nonoperative treatment can provide lasting benefit for some patients, highlighting the importance of patient selection.


5. The pain and functional improvement can have an economic impact. A 2010 study examined patients who underwent spinal surgery or chose nonoperative treatment. The researchers found when patients have poor surgical outcomes requiring additional surgeries, there is a high cost. However, surgical technologies that can improve discectomy outcomes 50 percent to 70 percent may improve patient quality of life and be overall cost-neutral. The good outcomes can send patients back to work quickly with further economic benefit.


More articles on spine surgery:
Depression's impact on revision spine surgery outcomes: 5 key findings
Can CTs detect cervical spine injuries?
15 spine, neurosurgeon honors and promotions


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